Adapted from humorist Jean Shepherd’s hilarious memoir In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, A Christmas Story has climbed the ranks of the annual holiday classic films list to claim its spot among the hallowed elite of the genre. If you’ve ever tried to lick a frozen telephone pole, or found yourself in a ridiculous bunny outfit on Christmas morning, then A Christmas Story is one comedy you won’t want to miss…
A Christmas Story focuses on one central character, fifth grader Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) and his all-encompassing quest to receive a Daisy Brand Red-Ryder BB rifle for Christmas, although I don’t think he realizes he could put an eye out with one of those things… Thwarting Ralphie at every turn are his mother (Melinda Dillon) and father (Darren McGavin) who seem absolutely oblivious to their young son’s dream.
Unable to come right out and say what he wants, Ralphie drops subtle hints around the house such as placing clipped-out magazine ads for the gun in his parents’ nightstand reading material. When prodded for his true Christmas wish, Ralphie blurts out that he wants a Daisy Brand Red-Ryder BB gun, but his mother’s only reply is, “You don’t want one of those. You’ll shoot your eye out!”
A Christmas Story is filled with memorable scenes and highlights that have helped built a cult following around the life of a young boy obsessed with Christmas who is surrounded by a varied cast eccentric friends and family members. When Ralphie’s father beams with pride at his ability to win a newspaper contest, his proudly displays his prize in the front window of the family home, a three-foot lamp with a woman’s long, stocking-covered leg as its base. Embarrassed, Ralphie’s mother “accidentally” breaks it, sparking a war of words with her husband. Meanwhile, Ralphie dreams of saving the whole family with his Red-Ryder BB gun, thus earning the family’s undying gratitude.
One of the best sequences in the film involves a family trip to the local department store, where Ralphie and his little brother Randy meet with the store Santa Clause near closing time. Following a long, extended wait to reach the front of the line to see Santa, Ralphie is so brimming with anticipation to tell Santa what he wants that he can’t speak. So, Santa convinces Ralphie that he wants a football. But before Santa’s helper can push Ralphie down the North Pole slide, Ralphie blurts out his true wish, only to hear Santa’s reply, “You’ll shoot your eye out with that, kid!”
One of the best Christmas comedies ever made, although few come close to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story is a memorable holiday classic the entire family can enjoy. Much like It’s A Wonderful Life, the film has only grown in popularity in the years since its release. The timeless nature of its subject matter lends itself well to annual holiday viewing, and it remains one of a handful of “must see” films for the Christmas season…